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Preps for 'Palestine Friday' in Judea and Samaria

By IsraelNationalNews.com

The Israeli security establishment is gearing up for Friday demonstrations and marches in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria called for by the Palestinian Authority, ahead of its Friday evening (Israel time) bid at the United Nations for recognition as a sovereign state.

There are also reports of demonstrations against the bid and calls to simply clash with Israelis. IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said the PA and its forces were moving to keep demonstrations in check and expressed hope that they would continue to do so. He added that his forces were ready to protect Israel and its citizens.


Palestinians Demonstrate in Support of UN Membership Bid

By Scott Bobb (VOA-Jerusalem)

Palestinians across the West Bank have been demonstrating this week to show support for statehood. The display comes ahead of a speech Friday by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in which he is expected to demand membership in the United Nations.

With Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in New York, thousands of Palestinians gathered in Ramallah Wednesday and other West Bank cities to show support for Palestinian membership in the United Nations.

Ramallah Governor Laila Ghanam told the crowd it was a historic moment for which the Palestinian people have been waiting for a long and bloody time.

But on Thursday, hundreds of Palestinians in Ramallah protested the U.N. speech by President Barack Obama, in which he said a Palestinian state could be established only through direct negotiations. Israeli news media praised the speech, saying the American president for the first time had shown an understanding of Israel's particular concerns.


Some Palestinians, such as butcher Tamer Marmesh in Ramallah, dismiss the drive for U.N. recognition. He said going to the United Nations is nonsense. "Even if we get recognition, we are under occupation. It is a meaningless venture," he said.

In Jerusalem, Israeli office worker Ziva Gazit agreed, although she said she supports a separate state for the Palestinians. "I think that a U.N. declaration will result in nothing for the average Palestinian in the cities. Nothing will happen for the moment and they will be very disappointed, I am afraid," she said.

Support among Palestinians for U.N. recognition is generally split along party lines. Fatah, which governs much of the West Bank, backs Abbas. But Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, opposes the bid for U.N. recognition. Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said it will only further legitimize Israel, which Hamas refuses to recognize.

He said that Abbas' move is an individual step that does not enjoy the support of the majority of the Palestinian people. He said it is a cosmetic move that will bring no real benefit. Jamal AbuKhater, 17, a student and blogger, is possibly one of the U.N. bid's youngest critics. He tweeted live from the protest. "Flags are being distributed...bottles being distributed...all this for a fake Bantustan," he tweeted, using the word for land that was set aside for black South Africans that is sometimes used in reference to the Palestinian territories. Although too young to vote, AbuKhater has been vocal online, criticizing what he calls the Palestinian Authority's quest to establish a "Sovereign Bantustan."

AbuKhater represents a less outspoken group that opposes Abbas' bid. "Our struggle is not a struggle for symbolic statehood;" he writes in a blog post, "it is a struggle to gain Palestinians' basic rights."

Palestinians are not the only ones who have organized to make their positions known. The last weeks have seen an increase in activity by Israeli settlers, who on Tuesday marched through the West Bank to advocate for their territorial claim.

From the settlement of Itamar - made famous earlier this year when five members of the Fogel family were killed in their home - around 200 settlers gathered, some dancing to music and waving Israeli flags.

"I'm here to walk on my land," said Leah Goldsmith, a resident of Itamar and native of New York City. "It's just telling the world, `Hey, we live here. We exist.' While on the other side of the world in New York now people are deciding about this land, we're saying, `Hello, here we are'."

Goldsmith reasserts her claim about her settlement: "Itamar is only an hour from any place. It's an hour from the airport, and hour from Jerusalem and an hour from Tel Aviv. It's not some far away fairyland they make up - the West Bank. No, it's the heart of Israel and it's time for the world to realize it."


Ahmadinejad: Zionism Sacred to West

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday launched into his customary tirade against Israel and the West at the United Nations.

Announcing he planned "to analyze the current situation from a different angle," Ahmadinejad immediately lambasted Israel saying the "Zionist regime imposes terror on the Palestinian people." Ahmadinejad also cast aspersion on the Holocaust and hinted the September 9/11 attacks occurred under dubious circumstances as well.

The world, Ahmadinejad mused, "must wonder, if after six decades the Holocaust is still used as an excuse to pay ransom to the Zionists… what will happen if the same amount of money was allocated to poor nations?"

He then accused the United States and its allies of "threatening anyone who questions the Holocaust and the events of 9/11 with military actions… and treating Zionism as sacred." In addition, Ahmadinejad questioned why U.S. troops did not take Osama bin Laden alive and put him on trial.

The statement prompted the American and French ambassadors – followed by dozens of other delegates – to leave the Assembly Hall.

Ahmadinejad's trademark surreal rhetoric and nutty analysis of world events has long been seeped with Holocaust denial and 9/11 conspiracy theories. His government has also underwritten Holocaust denial conferences and "studies." Ahmadinejad's hateful remarks outraged the American diplomats, who walked out during the speech.


Doomsday Weapon: Israel's Submarines

By Ynetnews.com (Analysis)

The day the Twin Towers collapsed in Manhattan, Sept. 11, 2001, IDF submarine "Leviathan" of the advanced Dolphin model was on a training sail somewhere at sea – the exact location of Israel's submarines will always remain classified, even dozens of years after the fact.

At one point, the submarine rose to the surface to take a break. The sub's commander, then-Lt. Col. Oded, looked through the periscope and saw a calm, blue sea. However, one crew member soon informed him that he just saw the New York towers collapsing on television. Oded's first reaction was laughter: What kind of movie are you watching there? How could the Twin Towers collapse? Yet soon after, the official announcement arrived from Israel.

The training session ended abruptly. Orders started to pour in from Navy headquarters. The submarine went into high alert and sank into the water for a lengthy period of several weeks. "In such case," Oded said, "nobody knows where you are except for your crew and your direct commanders. Even your family doesn't know. They don't know what you're doing or when you'll be back. They know nothing."

What does a terror attack at the World Trade Center have to do with an Israeli submarine going on high alert? This question shall remain unanswered as well. We can only guess: When the US experiences an unprecedented terror event whose implications are still unclear; nobody knows how the superpower would respond and what will happen in the Middle East as result. At such moments of uncertainty, Israel's first walls of defense are its long-range strategic arms – the most secretive one is the submarine fleet.

Israel's enemies must be made to understand that should they dare use any weapon of mass destruction, their own fate will be sealed. According to foreign reports, Israel's Dolphin fleet plays a crucial role in the game of deterrence with its second strike capability.

Just like Israel's submarine fleet is secretive, so are its commanders. Colonel Oded, 44, has recently completed his tenure as the fleet's commander, ending a chapter of more than 20 years where he performed almost every command post in the fleet.

"If a layman would see submarine troops from the side, he would not understand how we can withstand it," Oded says in a rare interview. "It's a group of people who perform missions at very certain locations and feel like home there. People wake up for their shifts, eat breakfast and follow a routine in the least trivial locations one can imagine."

When I ask Oded whether his troops' passports would be filled with stamps, had they theoretically stamped them at border control, he smiles and says nothing. Indeed, we can imagine that these virtual passports would have been full of stamps. The Navy's submarines, as opposed to other vessels, never dock at foreign ports, including friendly ones. This is the nature of the service: The submarines only dock in Israel.

In order to serve on a submarine, one needs more than to excel at school and accumulate more and more knowledge. Such soldiers need a specific mental makeup that enables them to be isolated for lengthy periods of time from their natural environment, while living with 40 other people under crowded conditions and an intensive, tense operational atmosphere.

"People who cannot withstand the pressure drop out in the screening process and during the courses," Oded said. "There is only one way to minimize the fear and improve the ability to function during emergencies: Sisyphean training. For that reason we constantly engage in simulating extreme scenarios, so when things happen in real life the soldiers are trained and already experienced those things during training sessions.

"When you arrive at the sub after the course, you feel that nobody is better than you, but very quickly you realize that you have much to learn from the people around you," Oded said. "The veteran non-commissioned officer is much more professional than you in his area of expertise. The secret of the submarine's power is the accumulated knowledge of everyone on board. Each soldier is an expert, so you learn to appreciate and trust them…you learn very quickly that the quality of the soldiers is so high that you cannot just issue orders."

So what happens to a young man who one day becomes privy to the State of Israel's deepest secrets? "If we developed the right person, and his ego is at a healthy place, not much happens," Oded said. "The heavy responsibility and significance of the work merely increase the need for modesty. Even though it's quite surprising and fascinating to discover what this country can do, we don't tell our parents or anyone else. Never. Everything stays within the submarine. This is one of the reasons why the friendships formed between the soldiers and officers don't exist elsewhere. We develop a culture where secrecy means life or death.

In the movies we often see a submarine commander receiving a mysterious message, walking over to the safe, pulling out an envelope and discovering a dramatic mission for the first time. Yet when Oded is asked whether this happens in real life, he bursts into laughter. "This happens in the movies. These are precisely the things that are not done in real life, because the sub commander works completely independently, and at times has no contact whatsoever with his superiors. Hence, he must have all the information available to him and be familiar with the mission's big picture, so he can make the right decisions.

At the end of the 1980s, Oded completed a degree in electrical engineering and physics at the Technion. Upon graduation, he was appointed as commander of a missile boat that specializes in anti-submarine warfare (the Navy ensures that future sub commanders serve on such boats first, as there is no better way to learn how they behave when confronting a submarine.) After two years, Oded embarked on a submarine commander's course – an intensive eight-month track with a personal mentor. In 1999 he was assigned to command the old-model submarine "Gal." The only thing he is willing to say about that period is: "It was a very operational year, with plenty of counter-terror activity." In 2001, he was appointed as the second commander of "Leviathan," a new model Dolphin sub.

When asked how it feels to command "Leviathan," a submarine that is three-times larger than the previous sub he led, Oded first speaks about the improved shower experience. "When you are sailing for weeks and your only way to take a shower is to use the air-conditioner's water, yet suddenly you have a shower, only then you understand the meaning of this," he said.

"Suddenly there is a convenient space for service, in submarine terms of course. Suddenly your sub has more than one floor. There are also more arms and more advanced sonar systems. There is also a leap in atomization and in command and control capabilities. It's like flying into space. Moreover, it's a very quiet submarine that can perform its mission with greater secrecy. At this time the Navy is preparing to double Israel's submarine fleet from three to six in the next five years, making it one of the region's largest and most advanced fleets. As result of this process, Oded was not only required to double the submarine fleet's manpower, but also to create a larger cadre career officers for a lengthy service term, as the need for professional expertise will only be growing. Hence, the Navy realized it must offer these soldiers the army's best service terms. For example, sub troops can study almost anything they want, as long as they stay in the force. Notably, a sub officer is required to serve nine years at least.

Oded said that doubling the fleet's size is "not only a challenge for the army; it's a challenge for the State." When asked whether Israel needs such large fleet, especially in an era of cutbacks, Oded has no hesitation: "I have no doubt we need it. A large submarine fleet gives us much more than a multiplier effect in strategic and security terms."

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